12/07/20 – Galatians 1:18-24


These verses all commence with a conjunction (joining word) (Then, But, Now, Afterwards, And, But, And). This indicates that the same idea follows through all these verses today and therefore the whole passage must be studied as one to determine the consistency. Paul is developing an argument or debate which continues into Ch.2. He appears to be setting the stage for his argument against their use of the law (specifically circumcision) as a means of becoming “better” Christians. This is largely background information that is necessary to demonstrate his understanding of the issue of the legalistic attitudes of many Christian Jews of his day (including Peter).


Galatians 1:18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.


Thenthereupon; thereafter; then; afterwards.

Translated “Afterwards” in Vs 21 below.

to seehistoreo (enquire into; examine; investigate; find out; gain knowledge by visiting) It’s a bit like going to see a doctor; you go with the intention of finding out something. We get our word “history” from this term.


Paul couldn’t have been with Peter all that time (15 days) because he also had time to argue with the Greeks who went about trying to slay him.

Acts 9:28-2928And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

It appears that it was this threat of violence that may have precipitated Paul’s departure after only 15 days.

Acts 9:30[Which] when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.


Paul had previously left Damascus because Jews there had threatened to kill him (Acts 9:23-25). Clearly Paul “invited” conflict wherever he went! It must be noted, though, that if Christians preach the word faithfully, they will be opposed by others who may seek to harm or even kill them.

Matthew 10:22And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

John 15:18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.

2 Timothy 3:12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.


We are to be a sweet-smelling savour to some, and the stink of death to others.

2 Corinthians 2:15-1715For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things? 17For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.


Paul later (before being taken to Rome) said (to the Jews of Jerusalem) that he had been ordered by God to leave Jerusalem (after the 15 days), to depart and that he would be sent to the Gentiles.

Acts 22:17-2117And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.


Galatians 1:19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.


Butbut; moreover; and.

Translated “Now” in Vs 20 below, “And” in Vs 22 below, “But” in Vs 23 below.

save – or “except”


It appears that Paul (then Saul) had wanted to meet up with the disciples but they had been afraid in case he was trying to trick them into being imprisoned and persecuted.

Acts 9:26-2726And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.


Who was James, though? There are 3 main contenders: 2 of the disciples named James and another who is named as Jesus’ brother.


(a) There were 2 disciples named James:

(i) James the son of Zebedee the brother of the disciple John.

Matthew 4:21And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

Put to death by sword (Acts 12:2).

(ii) James the son of Alpheus (Matthew 10:3), sometimes called James the Less/Lesser/Younger.


(b) Jesus also had a brother named James.

Matthew 13:55Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

(It is generally believed that the book of James may have been written by James the Lord’s brother, although other views say that he was another James who may have lived sometime after the others. Ellicott says that he was James the Just.) Galatians 1:19 above says that James is “the Lord’s brother” which would seem to indicate the actual brother of Jesus, yet he was not one of the 12 apostles (and neither was Paul). He was not originally a believer in Jesus (John 7:5For neither did his brethren believe in him.)

He was also sometimes called James the Just; tradition says that he took the place of James son of Zebedee upon James’ martyrdom in 44 AD approx.


James and John were also probably 1st cousins of Jesus who, as close family, could have been called brothers of Jesus as well. Try and fathom this reasoning out in the following.


All 4 gospels mention a group of women standing near the cross. Matthew names 3 women, Mark names 3 and John names 4, while Luke 23:49 just mentions “the women that followed him from Galilee”. (Luke 24:10 names 3 of the women who went to the tomb as “Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary [the mother] of James”.)


Matthew, Mark and John all mention Mary Magdalene near the cross. Both Matthew and Mark list Mary the mother of James (son of Alphaeus), and John lists Mary (Jesus’ mother), plus Jesus’ mother’s sister (Jesus’ aunt) who is probably Mary mother of James and Joseph, and Mary (wife) of Cleophas. Assuming these lists to be of that same group then the mother of Zebedee’s children is also likely to be Salome as listed by Mark, and most probably Jesus’ aunt as listed by John.

If John’s mother is mentioned by Matthew (“the mother of Zebedee’s children”), then why doesn’t John mention her (being his mother)? The answer is that he probably has, yet calls her the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus (“his mother’s sister”).

(Is Mary wife of Cleopas also wife of Alphaeus? Probably not, so Mary mother of James and Joseph is probably only in 2 of the gospels.) Salome is mentioned only by Mark.


Matthew 27:55-5655And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Mark 15:40There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;

John 19:25-2725Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own [home].


It is clear, therefore, that James and John were most probably cousins of Jesus. Question: Is the James of Galatians 1:19 the brother of Jesus (who wasn’t actually one of the 12 apostles) or was it James son of Zebedee? I would strongly favour it being James the brother of Jesus who also probably wrote the book of James.


Galatians 1:20Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.


before – or “in the presence of”

liepseudomai (to lie; to speak deliberate falsehoods; deceive by a lie; lie to)

Paul is literally swearing (as in a court of law) that what he is writing to them is the truth. “I swear that the evidence that I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

1 Kings 18:14-1614And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah [is here]: and he shall slay me. 15And Elijah said, [As] the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.


Galatians 1:21Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;


cameerchomai (come; to come from one place to another, used of those arriving and of those returning; to make one’s appearance (in public); come into being; come forth; be established; become known; to go; to follow one) It has the idea of being the consequence of a personal choice to go somewhere for a purpose.


This word is interesting in that it is used in John 6:37-45, a passage that calvinists say “proves” the unconditional election.

It is translated “cometh” in John 6:37All that the Father giveth me shall come (heko) to me; and him that cometh (erchomai) to me I will in no wise cast out.

This is a verse that calvinists love to use to “prove” their unconditional election heresy. They teach that all those unconditionally chosen by the Father will come to Jesus and that none of those who are chosen to come will ever be cast out. However, there are some serious flaws in their argument.


1/.cometh” (erchomai) is used 5 times in the passage John 6:35-65 out of 604 times in the NT.


2/.shall come” (heko), though, is a different word – heko – which means to have come, have arrived, be present. It is used only the once in John Ch.6 out of 26 NT occurrences. It means that not one person whom the Father has given to Jesus will be absent. It relates to the previous chapter where Jesus says: 25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:25-29)


3/. Note that “hath given” in John 5:26 and John 5:27 is the same word used for “giveth” in John 6:37.

Also note carefully (in John 5:22) that the Father has given “all judgment unto the Son”. In the following, “hath committed” is that same word used for “giveth” in John 6:37.

John 5:22For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed (or “hath given”) all judgment unto the Son:

Thus the Father has given “all” to the Son to be judged by the Son, and not one of those given for judgment will be absent; they will “all” be present; they “will (all) come to me” said Jesus.


4/. Look at the following verses which all discuss the “all” that will be judged.

John 5:22For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:25-2925Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

John 6:37aAll that the Father giveth me shall come to me;

John 6:39And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Thus “all” will be present; not one that has been given to the Son will be absent.

2 Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.


5/. Note also in John 6:37 that “all” will be present (that is, not absent) yet the individual (“him”) will come and follow, and it is the individuals who will not be cast out. This pattern is repeated in John 6:39-40 where Vs 39 refers to “all” and Vs 40 refers to “every one” (that is, individuals).


6/. If all who were given by the Father are the unconditional election, then Judas must have been one of them, according to John 6:70-71 and Luke 6:13-16. If the calvinists are right, then Judas could never have been cast out or lost. So how did Jesus lose Judas in John 17:12? This inconsistency alone demonstrates that they are wrong! They also like to use John 15:16 to “prove” the unconditional election, yet Judas is one of those chosen here too, to bear fruit!


7/. They also misinterpret John 6:39-40 (39And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.) by saying that the Father will lose nothing; however, Vs 39 refers to the resurrection of all the dead collectively in John 5:25-29, and Vs 40 refers to those that believe on Christ individually. (Similar to the 2 groups in John 6:37: one group of all mankind who will stand before God in the judgment, and the other group of the individuals who come to follow after Christ.) Note that there has to be 2 separate groups of people in John 6:39-40: (a) “all which he hath given me” and (b) “every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him”. Calvinists have to interpret (a) and (b) as the same people. They say that both groups are raised up again on the last day; therefore both are the same. But John 5:29 separates the “all” into 2 groups, one for life, and the other for damnation.


8/. Therefore John 6:37 and also John 6:39-40 refer firstly to all mankind who will be raised in the resurrection for judgment, and secondly to the individuals who will choose to follow Christ and receive everlasting (eternal) life. All will belong to the first group, while only those who call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13) will be in that second group.


So, getting back to Galatians 1:21, the word used for “came” (erchomai) indicates that Paul “came” because he had decided to do so for a certain purpose.


regionsklima (an inclination; slope; declivity; the [supposed] sloping of the earth from the equator towards the poles; a zone; a tract of land; a region) We get our word “climate” from this term.


the regions of Syria and CiliciaWhen he left Jerusalem Paul was taken to Caesarea and then Tarsus.

Acts 9:30[Which] when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Acts 11:25-26 says that Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul and then brought him to Antioch.  (25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.)

britannica.com says: In 67 bce Tarsus was absorbed into the new Roman province of Cilicia. and Antioch was the centre of the Seleucid kingdom until 64 bce, when it was annexed by Rome and was made the capital of the Roman province of Syria.

Thus the actual order would have been to Cilicia first and then on to Syria, it seems.


Galatians 1:22And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:


was unknownagnoeo (to be ignorant; not to know; not to understand; unknown; to err or sin through mistake; to be wrong) We get “agnostic” from this word.

face – or “appearance” Literally an ongoing action: “I continued to be unknown.”

Thus “My face continued to be unknown to the Christian churches of Judea.

the Churchesekklesia (a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly; an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting; the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth)


Because Paul has spent most of his time (since being saved) away from Jerusalem (except for those 15 days of Galatians 1:18) and had not seen any of the other apostles except James, he says he was unknown by face to the Christians of Judaea. Possibly some might have known him but he was not personally familiar to those Judaean Christians in general. After he left Jerusalem he went to Syria and Cilicia (Vs 21 above) which were far enough away to mean little or no contact with those still remaining in Jerusalem and Judaea. Paul tended to travel with a certain select group of fellow-travellers.


Peter appears to be the only apostle Paul had any reasonable contact with, other than James (Vs 19 above). This emphasises his differences with the other apostles, being called to preach to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:16). And Peter was also called by God to extend the offer of the gospel to the Gentiles. He was told by God (Acts 11:1-11:18) that the Gentiles were no longer considered “unclean” and were to receive the gospel of salvation.

Acts 10:44-4844While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


There were those who harshly criticised Peter for having anything to do with, especially eating with, the uncircumcised Gentiles.

Acts 11:1-31And the apostles and brethren that were in Judæa heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

But after Peter explained what had happened, they said: Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)


So Peter was probably the only disciple/apostle that Paul had anything much to do with, and both had been called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.


Galatians 1:23But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.


in times past & once – both pote (once i.e. formerly, aforetime, at some time in the past) Also used for “in time past” in Galatians 1:13.

preachetheuaggelizo (That is, to evangelise.)

the faithpistis This is not the trusting faith that believes, but the faith as the body of knowledge that people believe in. See Romans 1:5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

destroyeddestroyed; overthrew. Translated “wasted” in Galatians 1:13.


This verse is in some ways the other side of Galatians 1:13. Paul has now become one of those Christians whom he used to persecute – a complete turn-around indeed. As John Newton wrote: I once was lost but now I'm found, Was blind, but now I see.

one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. (John 9:25b)


Paul is telling them that if he can change then anyone can change, and if such change is so dramatic, then why try to fix a gospel that has saved a wretch like Paul.

In particular, Paul notes that it is only his reputation that they have heard (or are hearing). They have only heard reports to the effect that he who persecuted them was now preaching “the faith” which he once destroyed. And …. (continue to next verse)


Galatians 1:24And they glorified God in me.


Andkai (and; also; even; indeed; but) The most commonly used word for “and”.

They gave glory to God for such a change in Paul, that such a miracle could only be the work of God and not of man. They are not glorying in Paul himself but for what had been achieved by God in him. Once upon a time the Galatians were saved by the gospel Paul preached because of the change that had occurred in him. He wants them to realise that he still preached the same gospel; and if it could save to the uttermost then, then why should it not continue to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, why fix something that isn’t broken? So do not add to that which is already perfect! will be the theme that Paul will continue to push at them. If it saved without perfect adherence to the law of circumcision then, then why add the law? is Paul’s theme here.


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